Wednesday, July 20, 2011

FACT: Chris Osgood is NOT a Hall of Famer

chris osgood wings sucks
According to TSN, Chris Osgood’s retirement opens up another good Hall of Fame debate. In their article, they state that Osgood’s career numbers are strong: his 401 victories are tenth all-time; he recorded 50 regular season shut outs; and he won three Stanley Cups with the Red Wings (although he was only a starter for two of those teams).

During Osgood’s retirement press conference he said, “if I could sum up my career in Detroit, I was the perfect goalie for the team at the perfect time.” – via TSN

Well that’s nice. But unless we’re inducting those entire Red Wing teams with you, there’s no way you deserve induction into the Hall of Fame.

Osgood’s 401 career wins is certainly a lot, but that says more about the Red Wing teams in front of him than his actual play. The win is a team stat that people masquerade as a goalie stat.

Using wins as a means to evaluate Osgood's career performance as an individual is deceptive when we consider his career save percentage is only .905. He only had four seasons with a save percentage higher than .910, which is fewer than the five seasons he accumulated with a save percentage below .900. He only had one season with a save percentage in the top-5 in the league and only three in the top-10.

The wins argument is also flawed because in the modern era of 30 teams, overtime wins, and shootout wins, there are many more opportunities to pad this stat. The NHL did not introduce regular season overtime until the 1983-1984 season and didn't add the shootout win until 2005-2006, meaning that modern goalies will obviously dominate the top of the wins leader board. That doesn’t make them superior to goalies that did not play during this era.

Osgood’s career goals-against-average mark of 2.492 is good enough for 24th all-time, but this once again explains more about the Red Wings as a whole than it does Osgood’s talents as an individual. GAA is tightly related to the team a goalie plays behind and isn’t the best evaluator of their personal performance.

Looking at individual achievements provides further evidence that Osgood is an unworthy Hall of Fame candidate. Osgood never won a Vezina Trophy and he was only once named to the NHL’s Second All-Star Team in 1996. He won the Jenning’s Trophy twice for the lowest GAA in the league, but this is once again a team award disguised as a goalie award. Chris Osgood was hardly considered one of the best among his peers, how is he supposed to match up against the greatest of all-time?

You can make a list of all the current members of the Hall of Fame that don’t belong and argue that because they made it in, so should Osgood, but this is just stupid. If we keep lowering the bar you might as well let everyone in. Patrick Lalime has the third lowest GAA in playoff history. Should the Hockey Hall of Fame admit him as well?

On the surface people will justify Osgood’s worth by comparing him to current HOFer Ed Belfour because they both faced roughly 25 shots per game and have almost identical career save percentages (Belfour’s is slightly higher at .906). The difference, however, is that Belfour led the league in save percentage twice, was top-3 three times, and was top-10 six times. He led the league in shutouts four times and was a main component of every team he played for. That’s not even mentioning his two Vezina awards.

Chris Osgood had a solid career. Detroit was good enough that they didn’t need a goalie to steal any games; they just needed a goalie that wouldn't be the reason they lost. Chris Osgood filled this role. But really, most goalies outside of Dan Cloutier could fill that role. Osgood was a replaceable part on those Detroit teams.

The Hall of Fame shouldn’t induct players that were just good enough: they should strive to honour the best players to ever play. Chris Osgood need not apply.

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